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Past Imperfect?
Lester Munson
February 09, 2004
A book about the Kobe Bryant case paints a picture of a troubling pattern
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February 09, 2004

Past Imperfect?

A book about the Kobe Bryant case paints a picture of a troubling pattern

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If a new book is correct, the Kobe Bryant sexual-assault case, which so far has focused on the defense's digging into the mental and sexual history of the alleged victim, may hinge more on Bryant's past. Kobe Bryant: The Game of His Life includes a detailed account of an alleged incident involving Bryant and a room-service waitress who rushed out of his hotel room in Portland after a sexual advance last April. The book suggests that at least two other women were placed in "questionable circumstances with Bryant," without providing further details. In the book, none of the women alleges rape.

Game of His Life is short (164 pages), and it's the first book released by a New York City firm called Revolution Publishing, which is run by Jeffrey Scott Shapiro, 30, a law student who has worked for the Globe supermarket tabloid and Gannett's Journal News in New York. Shapiro is also the book's author. And, as he discloses in the preface, he created a pseudonym, Jennifer Stevens, as his co-author to stand for other reporters who helped him. The book, which in general appears to have been solidly reported, says that Eagle County prosecutors, seeking to show a pattern of sexual advances, have contacted the women who had the alleged encounters. (Prosecutors declined to comment; defense lawyers could not be reached.) The waitress has already refused to cooperate. "If I get subpoenaed," she told Shapiro, "I'll testify?."

Even if authorities in Eagle get the women to cooperate, the testimony may not stand up as evidence. Bryant's lawyers would contend that past indiscretions cannot be used against him, even as they try to enter evidence pertaining to the alleged victim's past (The law allows for different standards for Bryant and for the alleged victim.) Prosecutors would argue that there are legal precedents showing that a history of Bryant's behavior should be admissible.

Game of His Life also describes Bryant's first encounter with detectives. Asked if the accuser ever said "no," Bryant hesitated, says the book When a detective said, "You're not answering the question," Bryant said, "I'm thinking." After 30 seconds—the book says this is on tape—Bryant said, "It was consensual." Bryant's manner, if accurately represented, could hurt him.

It's too soon to say whether the book will be a major problem for the defense. But Bryant's lawyers are trying to preserve his image as they defend his case. Game of His Life won't help either cause.

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